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Thread: How to break news of an unconventional relationship to the family...

  1. #1
    tvnerdgirl
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    How to break news of an unconventional relationship to the family...

    A friend of mine is involved in a relationship with a married couple. She and the male part of the couple - we'll call him "Joe" are involved romantically and his wife - we'll cal her "Jane" is aware and fine with it. She and "Jane" are good friends and both of them spend time together apart from "Joe" as well as with him. They all spend time together as well and function as a family unit.

    This has been going on for a year and "Joe's" side of the family is aware of it and accepting of it. "Jane's" side of the family for the most part is OK with it. She has no living parents, and her extended family are accepting of it as well. "Joe" and "Jane" are wanting to have kids at some point and my friend wants to help take care of them and the relationship to go further.

    My friend is wanting to tell her own family about it, but is nervous about doing so. Her parents are baby boomers who really only know the "conventional" family unit. They aren't strongly religious but come from a small town and have not really been exposed to different relationship styles. Her mother is mild mannered, and she is hopeful that she will be accepting. She is not sure about what her Dad will think and suspects that some members of the extended family (who are more religious) might be strongly opposed.

    What would be the best way to break something like this to her immediate family? "Joe" and "Jane" have suggested having them watch a show like "sister wives" and gauging their reaction from that before proceeding further.

    Thoughts???

  2. #2
    becomingkate
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    I don't think there's a way to break it to them gently. It is what it is; she would most likely get a lot of flack from her religious relatives, but as long as she is treated well, then hopefully her family will come to accept it.

  3. #3
    lavenderdove
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    The thing is, this is still a pretty eccentric lifestyle in today's world with very few people engaging in polygamous relationships. I think a lot of families would worry that this is shortchanging their daughter because she doesn't have and never will have legal marital status and rights to this other woman's husband and that she is being used and played for being a second fiddle to this other woman and taking care of someone else's children. It may be HER choice, but it is not a common lifestyle at all. She will also have no legal right to those children either if the married couple decide some day they want her out or to triangulate another woman in and boot her out.

    People have become fairly accepting of also kinds of sexual arrangements, but this kind of domestic arrangement is what her family will probably have trouble with. I don't think there is any easy way to break the news to your friend's family, and i suspect they will be quite upset. It is easier for Joe and Jane's family because they ARE married and have legal ties to each other, and can jettison your friend and/or replace her with someone else with no consequences whatsoever to their own union. But for your friend's family, they will see that your friend is in a precariously position legally and otherwise since she has no martial rights whatsoever to the man, his property, or their children.

  4. #4
    dartagnan
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    It's a very difficult thing to try to talk about. As lavenderdove pointed out, a good deal of marriage is based on things like "property rights."

    A lot of well-meaning families do make a lot of noise about how "someone is bound to get hurt," but that's true of any relationship, especially marriage. I think that your friend will find that a lot of that is simply not accepting anything that might embarrass them in front of their neighbours and members of their church.

    My advice to her is: Try to find a polyamorous community, either online or better still, in person. Avoid "polygamous" groups for now, as they tend to focus on things like marriage rights. (Many don't, but I haven't found any near me.) My sense is that you're looking for acceptance, and you're more likely to find it there than with your own family. If you really must tell your family, be prepared to cut them off if they can't accept you.

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    pl3asehelp

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    There's no responsible good parent on earth that would think this is a good situation for their child, so thinking you can somehow spin it so her family will think it's not a bad idea will fail. I wouldn't even bother telling them as it's not going to last, so there's really no point in just torturing her family.

  6. #6
    rosephase
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    Quote Originally Posted by pl3asehelp [Register to see the link]
    There's no responsible good parent on earth that would think this is a good situation for their child, so thinking you can somehow spin it so her family will think it's not a bad idea will fail. I wouldn't even bother telling them as it's not going to last, so there's really no point in just torturing her family.
    ...sigh... there are a lot of healthy happy poly families that last as well as a lot of loving wonderful parents who support there children finding there own paths in life.

    Anyway I'm poly and coming out to my mom was one of the scariest things I have ever done. She isn't religious any longer (she was a Catholic) and it did startle her but she loves me and loves my partners. My partners and I have been really lucky, my girlfriend's partners have been nothing but supportive. My mom asked that we wait to tell my father until he got to know my girlfriend more but my mom invites my girlfriend to all the family holidays including paying for her to fly to Hawaii. My boyfriend's Mom has been a bit more freaked out. She sends us bibles and worries about us but after three years of being out to her she at least addresses the Christmas cards to all three of us.

    My other boyfriend has decided to not come out to his mom because he doesn't want to deal with her judgment around the issue. Coming out is a very personal thing. For me I felt like I had to because I didn't want to lie to my parents or ask my partners to pretend not to be in a relationship when they were around.

    But there isn't a way that makes coming out easier. I would just tell you friend that if it is important be prepared to "prove it" by sticking together. Sometimes the only thing that makes a non-standard relationship make since is time. Even my boyfriend's mom has come around a little bit with time. The only other advice I would give her would be to be ready for some things that are going to hurt. Try to trust that if hurtful things are said they are out of love and shock. Be ready to be forgiving, be ready to listen and be ready to answer questions.

    I tend to want all poly people to be out but sometimes with some families it's not the right choice... but your friend is awesome and brave to be thinking about sharing her life and love with her family. I hope they can see that when/if she tells them.

  7. #7
    pl3asehelp

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    Doesn't sound like you have children, which makes things entirely different and is what OP said they're considering doing. Having girlfriends and boyfriends is a walk in the park and all about you and what you want. Being a parent is brutally hard and all about sacrificing yourself and what you want. I've known many a poly in SF and have never ever seen a situation where they raised a kid from birth to 18.

  8. #8
    rosephase
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    Quote Originally Posted by pl3asehelp [Register to see the link]
    Doesn't sound like you have children, which makes things entirely different. Having girlfriends and boyfriends is a walk in the park and all about you and what you want. Being a parent is brutally hard and not at all about you. I've known many a poly in SF and never ever seen a situation where they raised a kid from birth to 18.
    My boyfriend and his wife are about to have a kid. I know a lot of poly families that have kids. I honestly think the more loving adults you have in a child's life the better it is for the kid and the easier it is on the parents. Poly families are not inherently less stable then monogamous ones.

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    Batya33
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    Quote Originally Posted by pl3asehelp [Register to see the link]
    There's no responsible good parent on earth that would think this is a good situation for their child, so thinking you can somehow spin it so her family will think it's not a bad idea will fail. I wouldn't even bother telling them as it's not going to last, so there's really no point in just torturing her family.
    Completely agree with this - the OP's friend should do the compassionate thing and not tell them - there are people who only tell their parents about engagements, marriages, or long-term committed relationships which involve living together. If she is not doing any of those things then the fact that she is dating a married man need not be shared. I also agree that it says nothing negative about her parents if they would choose not to be calm or happy about this.

  10. #10
    pl3asehelp

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    Quote Originally Posted by rosephase [Register to see the link]
    My boyfriend and his wife are about to have a kid. I know a lot of poly families that have kids. I honestly think the more loving adults you have in a child's life the better it is for the kid and the easier it is on the parents. Poly families are not inherently less stable then monogamous ones.
    A lot of people have kids. The minority actually play the role of a parent to them. It's not until they get to be teenagers that it becomes apparent who had parents and who didn't. If your boyfriend plans on actually being a present parent, he will barely have time for his wife and his job, let alone maintaining additional relationships with girlfriends.

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